The Second Irish Brigade—Tins Chicago Irish-American Corps— American volunteers—The Hollander Corps—The German Corps —The Italian Corps—The Scandinavian Corps—Russian scouts —Ambulance help for the Boer armies
HAVE no intention of writing a narrative of Blake's Irish Brigade, or of doing more than giving my readers a bare outline of its organization and record. The task of recounting its labors in the war belongs to some member of the corps, intimate with the personnel of its members and with the part they have played in the campaign. I have not had that advantage, and .cannot, therefore, do justice to this small body of Irishmen, who, in helping to prevent the consummation of one of the greatest and most sordid crimes of human history, have rendered an honorable service to the race to which they belong.
Not alone every commando and brigade, but every company in an army has its own individuality in the military organism, and, necessarily, its own story of its deeds, adventures, triumphs, and reverses, as a fighting unit of the general body. To recount all that is has achieved in a detail which would do even bare justice to very section of the Boer armies, would need not one but fifty volumes, and this is, I hope, a sufficient reason why I do not here attempt to relate all that Blake's men did for liberty in the name f Ireland in South Africa. The little which I have to say, more-over, is not written from the point of view of the brigade, but from that of the Boer officers and officials from whom my information about the corps has been almost exclusively derived.
The Irish Brigade was organized in Johannesburg chiefly by the exertions of Mr. John M'Bride, a native of Mayo, who was at the time employed as assayer in one of the Band mines. He was warmly supported by other prominent Irishmen on the Band. A manifesto was issued appealing to Irishmen to remember England's manifold infamies against their own country, and on this account to volunteer the more readily to fight against a common enemy for the defense of Boer freedom. Meetings were held, and recruiting began; the Boer Executive lending its encouragement to the proposed formation of a corps other than the field cornetcies and commandoes provided for in the regular burgher military system. The colonelcy was given to Mr. John Franklin Blake, an ex-West Point graduate and officer, who had seen service in the Sixth U. S. Cavalry Regiment in Arizona. Colonel Blake resided for a few years in Michigan after resigning from the army, and engaged in a railroad business. His life in this occupation was not what his adventurous disposition demanded, and he made his way to South Africa in search of a more exciting career than that of managing railway traffic. He was attracted to Rhodesia after the grabbing of that country from the Matabele, and the subsequent press laudation of its alleged mines and resources by Mr. Cecil Rhodes' various booming agencies. Blake rode over most of the country, studied it thoroughly, and wrote a series of descriptive letters in American and London papers of what he had seen and learned, which made the barrenness of the Chartered Company's territories so widely known that the boom did not realize all that its authors expected to reap from the gullible public.
Blake arrived in Johannesburg shortly before the Jameson Raid, and attracted attention at once by the reputation which his exposure of the Rhodesian fictions had made, and by his genial character and many accomplishments. He is a man of forty or fifty, six feet high, athletic in build, with a slight suggestion of Buffalo Bill in his general appearance and bearing. He is the best of " jolly good fellows " in a social sense, a great favorite with the ladies, and a fine all-round type of an American soldier.
The chief duty assigned to the Brigade in the operations before Ladysmith was that of a guard to the artillery under Commandant Trichardt, and I have already made reference to the signal service rendered by Blake's men in discharging that duty at the battle of Modderspruit. Sections of the corps took part in many of the engagements during the Natal campaign, volunteers being always ready for any fighting which Boer plans or British attacks demanded.
Had the Transvaal Republic an equivalent decoration to the English Victoria Cross, that distinction would have been conferred upon one of Blake's men, named O'Reilly, for his action during the battle of Colenso. The occasion of this exceptional bravery has been briefly described by Villebois-Mareuil in his diary. It was during the desperate efforts which were being made by Hildyard's officers, under Buller's own immediate incentive, to save the twelve guns which Colonel Long had rushed in towards the Boer fighting lines, in a frantic attempt to stop the tide of burgher triumph, then sweeping along the entire battle-field. The enemy's other guns were turned upon that part of Botha's center from where the Krugersdorp men were directing a concentrated fire upon Long's batteries. Villebois-Mareuil, who was witnessing the fine performance of the burghers, relates how he became anxious about a vacant position to the left of the men who were attacking the service of the English guns, and was about to suggest to the general that the place should be occupied as a support to the Krugersdorpers, when he found his idea anticipated by Botha, who had ordered some of the Middelburg men to strengthen the lines at that place. These men swept across the open space to the right, which was being literally raked by the British guns at the time, and took up the required position " in a superb manner," as Villebois described it. A few men of Blake's Brigade were included in these reenforcements, and, as they were in the very act of crossing the zone of fire, Major M'Bride's horse stumbled, and threw him to the ground. O'Reilly wheeled round amidst the hail of shells, and put his horse between M'Bride and the English gunners until his friend had regained the saddle, both escaping, as if by a miracle, without a scratch. It was as courageous an act as ever won a hero's reward.
When Roberts began his great movement north from Bloemfontein, General Botha ordered the Irish Brigade from Natal to Brandfort, and the men took part in whatever fighting occurred during the disheartening retirement of the burgher forces from thence to Pretoria. Again, in the actions fought by Botha between Pretoria and Dalmanutha, along the Delagoa Bay Railway, the Irishmen performed their share of the work of holding the British forces back. After the prolonged battle of Dalmanutha the Brigade disbanded, the majority returning to America. Blake, however, remained behind, resolved to see the conflict through to the end. He has been engaged during the recent and present campaign of guerrilla warfare in work which appeals to his love of daring adventure and contempt for climatic difficulties, and the cheery, optimistic, warm-hearted ex-frontiersman will be found to be one of the last men to lay down his arms against England while a shot can be fired or a deed can be done in legitimate warfare against the enemy of Transvaal and of Irish independence.
A few other members of the Brigade have also remained, and are fighting with De la Rey and Ben Viljoen. Those who returned to America were in no way tired of the war or wishful to leave the service they had gratuitously rendered to the cause of Boer freedom. Both State Secretary Reitz, General Botha, and General Ben Viljoen gave Major M'Bride and his companions very handsomely worded testimonials of appreciation and of thanks for their gallant work, and they have returned to their homes with the consciousness of having unselfishly fought for as noble a cause and as heroic a people as ever appealed to and obtained the hearty help of liberty-loving Irishmen.
There were many more men of Irish blood scattered through the Transvaal and Free State commandoes than were included in Blake's corps. I have found Irish names in the records of almost all the engagements fought over the wide field of the two Republics. President Steyn told me that " all the Catholics and Irishmen of the Free State were loyally with the Federal cause from the beginning," and I am therefore encouraged in the belief that the number of my fellow-countrymen who honored our race in offering to shed their blood for the freedom of two little Protestant Republics is larger than the numerical strength of Blake's and Lynch's Brigades would indicate.
The Brigade lost about ten killed during the campaign, and a small number are among the prisoners in Ceylon or St. Helena. Each member entered the Boer army as a burgher of the Transvaal; a special law having been passed by the Volksraad fully enfranchising every Uitlander who volunteered to defend the Republic. The few Irishmen who are in the hands of the English are, therefore, protected by the recognized rules of civilized warfare against what would otherwise be a savage resort to British vengeance against " rebels " to the authors of the war.
Blake's Brigade had an average muster roll of 120 men. It numbered some 300 at one time, and was under 100 after the siege of Ladysmith.
THE SECOND IRISH BRIGADE
A second brigade was formed in January, 1900, by a few of Blake's corps, in conjunction with Mr. Arthur Lynch, an Irish-Australian who had gone to the Transvaal as war correspondent for "Le Journal" of Paris. Like Colonel Maximoff and several
American journalists, Mr. Lynch was captivated by the heroic character of the Boer struggle against such cruel odds, and he threw away the pen for a Mauser rifle. A few officers of Blake's corps were desirous of creating another Irish Brigade, with, doubtless, the laudable ambition of increasing the number of bodies with Irish names in so good a cause, and Mr. Lynch was induced to join in the enterprise. He was elected to the post of colonel, and being an able linguist, speaking French and German with fluency, he succeeded in enlisting about 150 " Irishmen " from several European nationalities, not hitherto reckoned as subordinate members of the Celtic racial family. Colonel Lynch soon earned such a reputation for capacity and for looking carefully after the comforts of his men that numbers of volunteers from other commandoes were induced to join the second " Irish " Brigade, which in this way became at one time as strong numerically as that organized by Major M'Bride.
Colonel Lynch is a young man aged about thirty-five, tall, handsome, and accomplished. He is a graduate of the Melbourne University, and is in every sense, physically and intellectually, a worthy representative of the Australian-born sons of Ireland. He proved himself to be an able commander, and enjoyed the confidence of General Botha, who spoke of him to me as " one of the very best of my officers." The part which the second Irish Brigade played in the campaign is, I believe, to be told by Colonel Lynch in a narrative of the war as he witnessed it, both as a war correspondent and as an officer, and I must therefore leave to his better-informed knowledge the task of recording the full story of the corps which he commanded.
In the retreat of Joubert from Ladysmith to Glencoe, Lynch and his men fought in the rear guard, and were several times in action. The Brigade remained attached to General Lukas Meyer's command in Natal until the whole of what had been the army of the Tugela and of the siege of Ladysmith retired north through Laing's Nek; Lynch and his men on one occasion being instrumental in saving some of Ben Viljoen's guns from capture by Buller's forces. After the re-entry of Meyer's commandoes into the Transvaal, Lynch's Brigade were ordered to Vereeniging, but became disbanded in Johannesburg when passing through that city. Lynch and the few Irishmen who were in his corps went to the Vaal River, and joined the remnants of the various commandoes and brigades who were fighting with Botha, Steyn, and De la Rey to resist the advance of Roberts' huge army. All fell back first on Johannesburg, then on Pretoria.
It being now resolved to change the whole character of the campaign into a system of warfare in which Europeans with no intimate knowledge of the Transvaal could render little or no assistance in separate military organizations, Colonel Lynch left for Europe with many other volunteers, and has since his return to Paris continued to render excellent service to the Boer cause in letters and articles, full of first-hand information, to the French press and magazines.
In the fall of 1901 Colonel Lynch was selected by the Nationalist leaders of Ireland as a candidate for Parliament. He stood to . represent Galway and was overwhelmingly elected, receiving three votes to every one east for his opponent. He has not yet (March, 1902) been advised to attempt to take his seat. This election, together with the involuntary cheers in Parliament given by some of the Irish members on receipt of the news of Lord Methuen's capture and defeat by De la Rey, has exasperated the British Government beyond measure. These demonstrations of Irish sympathy with the Boer cause have arrested universal attention, andawakened a wide European interest in the relations existing between Ireland and England!
Colonel Lynch's chief officers were Major Mitchel, a Galway man, and Captain Oates, of Kerry, whose fine boy, Tom, was killed at Modderspruit. In subordinate posts this unique brigade had representatives of every European country, with one or two Americans, completing the most thoroughly cosmopolitan body which was ever commanded by an Irish or any other officer. There was Ireland, America, Australia, the Transvaal, Free State, Cape Colony, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Austria, Russia, Greece, and Bulgaria \j, represented in this second "Irish" corps, which, to complete its unprecedented representativeness, embraced a solitary Englishman, who fought for right and justice against his own country's forces. I visited Colonel Lynch's laager while in Natal early in May, 1900, and can bear personal testimony to the true soldierly manner in which his well-equipped camp was organized, and to his popularity as an officer among his Continental and universal " Irishmen."
The CHICAGO IRISH-AMERICAN VOLUNTEERS
This small contingent of volunteers was spoken of in Pretoria as the "finest-looking" body of men that had yet reached the Transvaal capital from abroad. They numbered about forty, excluding the medicos and non-combatants, and were all young men of splendid physique and of the best soldierly qualities. They were under the command of Captain O'Connor, of the Clan-na-Gael Guards, and joined Blake's Irish Brigade. President Kruger extended a special reception to the company, and addressed them in complimentary terms before they started for the front.
Lord Roberts was on the point of advancing from Bloemfontein when the Chicago men arrived, and they were hurried forward to Brandfort along with other reenforcements for De la Rey, who was in command until the arrival of Botha. O'Connor and his men acquitted themselves most creditably in all the rear-guard actions fought from Brandfort to Pretoria; Viljoen's Band Brigade, Blake's and O'Connor's men, with Hassell's scouts, doing their share of fighting in all the engagements during events and occurrences which were well calculated to damp the enthusiasm of the allies of the Boer cause. It is, however, under trying circumstances, offering little or no compensation for services or sacrifice, save what comes from the consciousness of a duty well performed, that men are best tested in mind and metal, and the work done during that most disheartening time was worth many a more successful campaign fought under brighter hopes for the cause of liberty.
During the several engagements which led up to the three or four days' fighting around Dalmanutha, two members of the corps were killed, Messrs. O'Hara and Egan; the former nobly sacrificing himself to save his comrades in a critical moment. He was a native of West Limerick. The names of the members of the Chicago corps are as follows, tho the list is not given as being accurate:
Captain Patrick O'Connor, Lieutenant Michael Enright, John J. Quinn, William Dwyer, Hugh B. Byan, Thomas Murray, Patrick J. Griffin, James E. Coyne, Edward G. Healy, W. MacTeigue, Thomas Cashel, John Costello, Daniel Daley, Hubert O'Hara, James Slattery, John A. Murphy, Edward Hawkins, John Welsh, John Duff, William Hurley, Joseph Rickard, Patrick Carroll, Richard Morrissey, Daniel Foley, John J. Rogers, Edward M. Egan, Michael C. O'Hara, Richard J. Cahill, James Hill, Daniel MacHugh, Frederick Varslius, B. Linchloter, Michael Davy, Thomas Naughten.
The doctors who accompanied the corps in an ambulance capacity, and rendered professional service to both Boer and volunteer forces were: Messrs. H. B. Macaulay, A. F. Conroy, Boss D. Long, J. J. Slattery, and E. Aderholdt. These medical gentlemen brought with them to Pretoria a splendidly-equipped ambulance service, which had been supplied by the generous action of the United Irish Societies of Chicago and their friends.
America contributed very few volunteers to the Boer cause, if those of German and of Irish-American origin are not included. There were, I believe, a larger number on the English side, especially in the later stages of the war. Probably 100 would represent the total number of American citizens, not counting Irish or German-Americans, in the Transvaal service. After the relief of Ladysmith most of these, along with some naturalized Germans, were organized into a scouting corps by Captain John Hassell, a native of New Jersey. Hassell had fought through the whole of the Natal operations, and was twice wounded. When I visited his camp at Brandfort in May, 1900, he had some Texan cowboys, four or five newspaper correspondents who " had come to write and who remained to fight," as they expressed it, together with several celebrities in his command, whose war and scouting adventures would in themselves make excellent copy for half-a-dozen chapters. Hassell was a smart, soldierly-looking young fellow, as resourceful and courageous as Americans of the true-grit brand are known to be wherever the best qualities of a sturdy manhood are called for.
And the disinterestedness of these brave spirits is shown by the fact that they gave aid to a seemingly hopeless cause at a time when England, to quote Kipling,
" Fawned on the Younger Nations for the men who could shoot and ride."
THE HOLLANDER CORPS
This body of volunteers was the largest of the foreign legions, and was mostly recruited from the Rand. Jan Lombard, member of the Second Eaad for Johannesburg, was its Commandant, and, as he and his compatriots desired to fight an English army by themselves, they fared very badly in consequence on the field of Elandslaagte. The corps gained in that engagement a deserved reputation for pluck but not for judgment, and scarcely recovered again, as a separate fighting force, the fine morale with which it commenced its career. A good number of Hollanders were included in the " Zarps," or Johannesburg Police, the bravest fighters of the war, and the parent land of the Boers probably rendered more effective help through its representatives in that splendid body of men than through the more assertive, if less renowned, corps which was so badly mauled by General French on the 20th of October, 1899. The valiant Zarps were mainly young Boers, but included a strong Hollander element, a good number of Germans, and a few Irish.
The Hollander Corps itself had a strength of about 500. Many of these, however, were employed in guarding British prisoners at Pretoria and Waterval, and in other non-combative capacities.
Fully 200 additional Hollanders would be found in the other commandoes, and in Viljoen's Rand Brigade. Then there were telegraphists, cycle despatch riders, and clerks, who rendered most useful service to the active forces in the field. Probably 200 volunteers, chiefly non-commissioned officers, went out expressly from Holland to join the Transvaal forces. Altogether Hollanders to the number of 1,000 must have rendered help in the various ways mentioned to the Boer armies during the war.
General Botha's military secretary during the Tugela campaign and up to the battle of Dalmanutha was a most able young Hollander, J. C. Sandberg, a brave soldier, an accomplished linguist, resourceful organizer, and an all-round indefatigable worker, to whom I am under many obligations for facts and information relating to the Tugela campaign.
It was a Hollander officer in charge of the soldiers who surrendered at Nicholson's Nek that told me the excellent story of the good-natured Tommy whom he found one morning doing " sentry go " over his own comrades. " Don't yer blime that kid, mister," said the soldier, saluting the officer, and pointing to a boy of 18 fast asleep, who had been on duty over the prisoners; " I seen he wor reglar done up, and I sez, ' Look heer, youngster, you take a snooze, and I'll do sentry go for yer, never you mind. Honor bright, I shan't give yer away!' It's all right, mister; I hope as yer won't punish the poor little chap." Neither the kind-hearted soldier nor the " little chap " suffered over the unique incident of an English prisoner doing sentry duty over himself and companions out of a feeling of humanity for his Boer guard.
THE GERMAN CORPS
I have made reference to the German Corps in the chapter dealing with the battle of Elandslaagte. They were equally as unfortunate as their Holland and Scandinavian kinsmen in experiencing a bad cutting up in the early stages of the war. Colonel Schiel, the founder of the corps, was wounded and taken prisoner on the 20th of October, 1899, and ended his actual war experience in his first battle. His services to the Transvaal army have been greatly exaggerated. There were but two matters on which the Boers needed the aid of military experts in European methods of warfare; namely, artillery, and the construction of forts for Pretoria and Johannesburg. The burghers had placed all their reliance during previous wars in their rifles and mobility, and most of them were skeptical about the value of ordnance, except for siege operations, after Jameson and his Raiders, with their ten guns, had been beaten and captured at Doornkop by half their number of burghers, armed only with Martini-Henry rifles. Still, an artillery corps was organized, as already related, and young burghers were drilled and instructed in gunnery practise. This was not the work of Colonel Schiel, as the British press have industriously attempted to make out. The Staats Artillery were organized and drilled by Majors Wolmarans and Erasmus, two burghers who had been sent to Europe
by General Joubert to study and report upon the latest improvements in Continental gunnery; and to these two officers belongs the sole credit which English critics would prefer to assign to German or French anti-British service in the work of the Boer artillery.
Colonel Schiel very probably rendered assistance in the planning and construction of the much-vaunted forts at Pretoria and the prison fort at Johannesburg; but, as these were not put to any use in the fighting which took place round the two cities in May, 1900, the benefit rendered to the Boer cause is not easily seen.
After the disaster of October 20 the German Brigade was reorganized and placed under the control of Commandant Krantz, of Pretoria, and members of the corps rendered excellent service on several occasions subsequently, notably in the fighting against Buller and Warren on the Upper Tugela, in January, 1900.
Associated with the corps in its second stage of active operations under Krantz were a number of young Europeans of some note, such as Baron Von Goldek, a Hungarian; Captain Max Schiffi and Lieutenant Simon, Austrians; Lieutenant Badicke, Baron Both-arch, and others. They were almost all looking for commissions, and, finding none, owing to the reasonable hesitancy of the Boers to entrust strangers who could not speak their language with posts of military responsibility, fought in the ranks in the Rand commandoes.
There were half-a-dozen German officers of experience and of some distinction indirectly associated with Krantz, who had also come out to the Transvaal in the hope of obtaining commands, and these fought for a time in various corps and commandoes; some returning to Europe, disappointed at their failure, others fighting and dying during the campaign.
Baron Von Reitzenstein fought with General De la Rey in his brilliant operations against French around Colesberg. Colonel Von Braun and a small number of German volunteers, including Lieutenant Brausinitz, fought with Viljoen's brigade on the Tugela, and showed conspicuous bravery at Venter's Spruit, Spion Kop, and Vaal Krantz; the latter officer being killed, and Von Braun taken prisoner at one of these engagements.
Von Braun was an experienced cavalry officer, and his views on the British cavalry forces in the war were freely expressed on his release and return to Berlin in July, 1900. He spoke as follows in an interview:
" I am compelled to say that I never saw anything more miserable than the way the British used their cavalry. Never once have I seen outpost duty or reconnaissance properly carried out by English cavalry. The handling of several regiments combined showed not the faintest trace of the knowledge of the employment of a cavalry division.
" The Boers might well say that the English cavalry were mutes; that is, there are no generals capable of leading them. How useful cavalry would have been in all fights on the Upper Tugela by threatening the Boers' line of retreat, tho, of course, they would also have had to fight on foot."
A grandson of Marshal Von Wrangel was numbered among the numerous Barons and Counts who belonged to Villebois-Mareuil's foreign legion.
At Elandslaagte, Count Zeppelin, a very fine young fellow, fought with General Kock's body-guard, and was leader in one of the counter-charges upon the Gordon Highlanders, armed only with a whip, with which he struck the first man who mounted the ridge. He was found dead the following morning with ten bayonet wounds in his body. Another German who rendered very special service was Otto Von Loosberg, an American citizen. He had charge of one of Christian De Wet's guns at Sannas Post, and gave a very good account of himself and his piece at that sensational encounter.
Major Richard Albrecht, who was the head of the Free State Artillery, is probably the only German officer who can really claim a share of the lavish credit which English writers have freely bestowed on his country for work done by the Boers themselves. Albrecht, who was a native of Berlin, had served in an infantry regiment during the Franco-Prussian War, and was promoted for his bravery during the siege of Paris. He subsequently went to the Orange Free State, took service under its Government, and organized the small artillery force of the little Republic, of which he was the recognized chief during the war. He was attached to the Wessels' commandoes in front of Kimberley, but had a roving commission to render assistance where it was most required. He had charge of Cronje's few guns at Modder River, Magersfontein, and Paardeberg, and earned the special thanks of his general and of President Steyn for the valuable work done by him on the occasion of the two earlier battles. Previous to the war he had been despatched to Germany to purchase a few guns of the newest character, and the six Krupps and two automatic pieces in possession of the Free State forces when war was declared had been purchased by Major Albreeht during this tour. He was a strict disciplinarian, but very popular with his corps. There were two subordinate officers of German nationality under Albrecht, whose names I have been unable to obtain. A Lieutenant Stuckenberg, who was killed at the battle of Enslin, was, I think, one of them. At no time during the war would the number of German volunteers exceed 500 men of the Federal forces. Albrecht surrendered with Cronje at Paardeberg.
THE ITALIAN CORPS
The Italian Corps numbered about 100, and were attached to the army of the Tugela under Lukas Meyer's command. With the exception of a few of the officers who arrived from Italy after the war had been some time in progress, the members had been miners in Johannesburg who volunteered to fight for the Republic. Most of them had served in the Italian army, and a few had taken part in the disastrous Abyssinian expedition. Their colonel was Camillo Ricchiardi, a very handsome, soldierly young fellow, and as brave as he was good-looking. He, too, had been in Abyssinia, and had likewise gone to the Philippines to offer his sword to Aguinaldo. Campaigning in the Far East was not very attractive, for climatic and other reasons, and he returned again to Europe after a very brief experience of Filipino warfare. He sailed for Lourenzo Marquez, and arrived in Pretoria shortly after hostilities began. Joined by Major Termini Merese and Lieutenant Count Pecci (a nephew of Pope Leo), an Italian Brigade was soon formed out of the men who had previously joined Viljoen's Band commandoes.
Colonel Ricchiardi took part in all the battles along the Tugela, and enjoyed the confidence of General Botha. While the battle of Colenso was in progress he exposed himself to danger in a most reckless manner, sitting on a sangar on the top of Fort Wylie during the fury of the English artillery attack, and smoking cigarettes in contemptuous disregard of the British gunners. " Always keep near the Boers in battle, if you do not want to be hit by the English artillerists," was the favorite advice of the young Italian to newcomers.
A true soldier's experience of war, with its risks and adventures, dangers and hardships, was rewarded in this instance in the fullest poetic manner with the guerdon of a romantic love and the happiness of a bride won on the field of battle. The handsome, dashing Camillo, tall and dark, quite a woman's ideal soldier-hero in appearance, was slightly wounded during the Tugela fighting, and went for a short time to hospital, where he met Mademoiselle Guttman, a relative, through her sister's marriage, of the Kruger family. Miss Guttman was a Bed Cross nurse. The convalescent colonel contracted a very violent heart malady on meeting in such a capacity one of the belles of Pretoria. He saw the young lady again in that city, and then returned to Italy. Last November I had the pleasure of meeting him at Marseilles when President Kruger arrived in Europe. The Presidential party included Miss Guttman, and on the 5th of June, 1901, the beautiful nurse of Pretoria became the wife of Colonel Camillo Ricchiardi at Brussels.
A large number of Italians were employed in the Boer ammunition factory at Johannesburg, under the direction of M. Leon Grunberg, when the place was destroyed by dynamite in May, 1900. Their comrades in the city held a vendetta meeting, at which the cry of " Death to the English " in Johannesburg was raised, and would have been carried out by the infuriated Italians against the suspected authors of the dastardly crime had President Kruger not sent Camillo Ricchiardi to calm down the vengeful passion of his fellow-countrymen. In this he succeeded.
THE SCANDINAVIAN CORPS
The story of the Scandinavian Corps has already been told in the brief account I have given of the gallant part played by them in the battle of Magersfontein, where, in a fight between fifty of them and the Seaforth Highlanders, they were all but annihilated. The corps was organized before war broke out, and numbered about eighty men. These were Uitlanders, miners, and others employed on the Band, and the cause of the Republic strongly appealed to their support in what appeared to them a war of aggression and of simple plunder on the part of the English.
The leader of the corps was Field Cornet Flygare, with a young Swede, Baron Helge Fagerskold, Captain Barendsen (an ex-Danish officer), and one Carl Albers Olssen as adjutants. The corps joined General Cronje's laager in the west, and took part in the early operations of the siege of Mafeking. Like other impatient Europeans, accustomed to other than Boer methods of warfare, the Norsemen were more eager for dashing actions and daring enterprises than the slow, psalm-singing burghers, and were importunate in their requests to be allowed to put an end to Baden-Powell's exasperating siege-show. The Boers listened, were politely grateful for such offers, and always refused, with a kind of fatherly feeling of pity for young men whom they looked upon as children in the knowledge of such fighting as successful methods of warfare in South Africa required.
When General Cronje was given the command of the Federal forces organized to meet Methuen, the Scandinavians were allowed to accompany him, and they fought in the battles of Modder River and Magersfontein. The fate which befell the brave but impetuous little band on the 11th of December excited the admiration of the burghers, but, like the similar recklessness of the Hollanders and Germans at Elandslaagte, it tended to confirm Boer officers in the conviction that while it was doubtless very magnificent it was also very unlike the rational system of warfare which should be waged by a small army, having no men to spare, against huge legions of mercenaries whose lives were valued at the price of their service.
There were about fifty or sixty more Scandinavians scattered among the Band, Boxburg, Pretoria, and other commandoes, who preferred to serve under Boer officers, as in the case of numbers of Irish, American, German, and other nationalities included in the Uitlander population of Johannesburg.
A small number of Russians were among the Europeans who joined the Boer forces in October, 1899. They were not at first sufficiently numerous to form a distinctive corps, and were scattered among the Johannesburg commandoes. After the Natal campaign had virtually ended in the relief of Ladysmith, some thirty of the Russians who had taken part in the siege of that town formed themselves into a body of scouts and joined General Philip Botha's command. I was witness to some of their scouting work in the south of the Orange Free State while staying with Philip Botha at Osspruit Camp, and right useful work it was. On one occasion three of them actually penetrated into the British lines near Bloemfontein and returned with a most accurate plan of Roberts' great encampment near the Free State capital. Philip Botha, who was himself an ideal chief of scouts, and Christian De Wet's right-hand man during his most successful enterprises in the Free State, held a very high opinion of his Russian pupils, and placed great confidence in their reports. They were all Cossacks from the Don River region of Russia.
Count Alexis de Ganetzky, a one-time gay young Russian in Paris, Prince Morgaff, and Colonel Eugene Maximoff were officers of Villebois-Mareuil's foreign legion, rather than actual chiefs of a Russian Corps. Maximoff was described by some of his Russian compatriots as an ex-police officer, and this statement, whether founded on fact or on fiction, tended to create a prejudice against him in the minds of the French legionnaires. Even if true it could still be consistent with a thorough loyalty to the Boer cause. He was an able military organizer, and was for a short time Villebois-Marouil's chief lieutenant. He succeeded to the leadership of the legion after its chief had been killed at Boshof, but upon jealousies breaking out among the numerous would-be successors of the gallant French officer, Maximoff relinquished the command and fought in the ranks until he returned to Russia.
The external help in Bed Cross ambulance labor given to the Boer armies was considerable; almost all the Continental countries being represented in this humane work. Two completely equipped field hospitals, of 100 beds each, were contributed by French societies through the French Consul at Pretoria. A German Ambulance Corps, including doctors and nursing sisters, rendered valuable service, as did those of the Netherlands, Belgian, Italian, and Russian corps, under competent medical men, nurses, and administrators. Pretoria, Johannesburg, and other large Boer centers organized Red Cross Societies out of private and public donations; and, with the cooperation of the friends of the Republics in Europe, the Federal armies were thus fairly well equipped in the surgical, nursing, and general ambulance requirements of the campaign. The Burke Hospital of Pretoria was the gift of an Irish merchant of that city. He was neutral in the war as between Boer and Briton, and rendered generous help to the wounded on both sides through his well-equipped ambulance service. There were no scandals connected with the hospital management of the Boer field forces, such as Mr. Burdett-Coutts, M.P. and others were compelled to expose in the case of the English hospitals, and British wounded have borne generous testimony to the humane manner in which their enemies treated them while under their care. No such disgraceful incident as that which occurred at Modder River can be laid at the door of the Republican generals. It remained for Mr. Chamberlain's military representatives to violate the Red Cross ensign by interfering with doctors engaged in attending to wounded burghers, treating them like common prisoners, and actually confiscating their equipments when compelled to acknowledge the wrong of the arrest.
Similar conduct on the part of the British in their treatment of Belgian, Dutch, and other pro-Boer ambulance organizations will have to be recorded in the full narrative of the war.